BOSTON (CBS) – The annual Head of the Charles Regatta kicks off this weekend and will draw thousands of competitors from all over the world. Among the rowers will be local kids from a special city rowing program.
Ayla Baraka is the coxswain of her rowing team and she is good at it. But the 14-year-old didn't know a thing about rowing until she found Row Boston, a free after-school program with Community Rowing in Brighton.
CHECK: Guide To Head Of The Charles
"It's fun because you get to learn new faces and new friends and get to learn new things," Ayla said.
Savion Pennington, a 15-year-old from Dorchester, had also never even heard of rowing.
"When I started it was really fun and I just decided to keep on going and I'm like pretty much really good at it," said Savion.
The kids, who were not used to team sports, are getting skills they didn't know they had.
"There is nothing like when you're in a boat and you're totally in sync, I can't even describe the feeling but it's amazing," said Ayla Rich of Jamaica Plain.
"It's really fascinating to watch a kid who hasn't been on a team sport before, to be nervous in the beginning, struggle those first few days and then come to love it," said Ellen Minzner of Community Rowing.
It's a big commitment for the kids who come five days a week and work hard.
"Sometimes you are there and you think you can't do it," Ayla says, "but you have your whole team and your coach around you that say yes you can."
The Community Rowing group will be competing in the Head of the Charles this weekend.
"I'm really excited, but I'm also nervous," said Ayla. "I think we're going to have a lot of fun together."
An amazing opportunity for a club that uses rowing to teach a lot more.
"The discipline of rowing, the teamwork, the accountability and expectations that the coaches have, I think really do help these young kids develop as people," said Minzner.
MORE LOCAL NEWS FROM CBS BOSTON
for more features.